„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


23rd December 2022

With the transition to a new year and gift-giving in the air, we look back and reflect about what we have achieved this year and feel incredibly thankful to all of you: members, supporters and donors.


We are proud to share with you some highlights of YMCA Europe in 2022. This is a brief summary of the many efforts that we have collectively undertaken to increase our relevance, adding value to the excellent work of the YMCA at local, regional and national levels.

Our year began with promising news in January, as The European Commission officially designated 2022 as the European Year of Youth. That meant increased opportunities for young people in fields such as education, mobility, employment and inclusion. It also represented higher participation in our YMCA Europe’s youth-focused initiatives. Shortly afterwards our operational grant application was successfully approved and we secured increased EU funding to support YMCA Europe’s operation throughout the year. 

When the war in Ukraine broke out in February, we called for unity and solidarity within our movement. We set out to raise funds for an immediate intervention in the field offering help and support for children and their families finding themselves in harm's way, and we did just that!

With the help of our donors, we raised almost 1.4 million euros, which was directed towards immediate humanitarian aid for the general population and, among other things, towards the integration of Ukrainian refugees throughout Europe.

Our prompt response, coupled with YMCA Europe’s rich experience of peace-building  and movement-strengthening enabled the YMCA to be best placed to serve the needs of young people and their communities today and in the future.

The month of March showed the true unity of many local, national, and international YMCAs in line with the Vision 2030 ambition. A new World-Europe YMCAs joint staff position was created in Brussels with a focus on applications writing and projects management as the full transition to our new seat was finalised and we started the planning for the 50th anniversary of YMCA Europe taking place in June 2023 in Berlin.

The month of April led us to effective measures to provide free psychological assistance to young people affected by the war in Ukraine and first-line support in the surrounding countries through programs such as "Heal the Smile" and the "Collective Fundraiser" - making a positive difference as we combined our efforts to mobilise resources and relief to those suffering and in need. Our “prayer for peace” events took place during the most dramatic weeks of the conflict, reinforcing our faith in action dimension on the front line. 

In the months of May and June, our movement began taking steps to provide social action programs for refugees and young people all over the continent. Field visits to the frontline and assessment of the YMCA centres there,  enabled us to have a clear mapping of the programs and to focus on new ones, upscaling our digital presence. This way we created an up-to-date database with projects and programs for refugees from every corner of Europe.

This month also marked the launch of our ‘Always On for Youth’  project’s report on Digital Health, Safety and Wellbeing. 

July was an eventful period, from our General Assembly in Aarhus, Denmark to connecting with our international partners of Y USA, and igniting together with our colleagues from across the World under the limelight of Vision 2030 at the World Council also in Aarhus. 


August was incredibly packed with activities from our offices and all the way to the grassroots - where summer camps, sporting events and youth-led programs were ongoing throughout the month.

And the month of September represented the big launch of our first Executive Master Program in partnership with ISCTE-Executive Education in Lisbon, Portugal and the “Refugee Skilling and Support Program” granted by the Accenture Foundation. In addition, our US YMCA partners confirmed over 1 million USD for our Response Action Plan in Ukraine and the countries affected by the war. 

October represented a month of mental health awareness where our program "Speak Freely" took off,  calling for accessible, high-quality mental health services and information for all, especially young people. This was coupled with the graduation of the 3rd generation of our Roots Peacework Institute, and the launch of the Peacework Guidebook translated into 3 languages (English, Croatian, and Russian), and the publication of our 100th Newsletter. We celebrated our mission driven impact at the Unify conference in Vienna. 


November was devoted to all the unsung heroes of our movement, young people, leaders, and volunteers across the continent, in communities affected by war and conflict. The many young heroes, who in spite of adversity, continue to share a smile with their YMCA Family. Our Organic Governance manual was designed following the work of our partners across Europe.

One of the more memorable events of the year was the 9th National General Secretaries Forum held in Brussels. This inspired a real sense of community and unity, as the leaders of national movements across the continent came together to reflect on our journey thus far, with a view to a more solid collaboration for youth empowerment and community strengthening in the light of Vision 2030.

As our digital skills and support programs for refugees carry on through the festive month of December, it is with great honor that we continue our mission and vision as YMCA. 


And what could be a better story than launching the "Digital Education Centres in the Republic of Moldova", a project implemented by YMCA, powered by Hewlett Packard Inc, with the purpose of accelerating digital equity among young people and marginalised communities. The project aims to reach over 100,000 beneficiaries within the first year, providing equipment to more than 300 educational centres with a total value of 5.5 million euros.

During 2022, our Executive Committee held 11 online and 2 offline meetings. As a governance body, together with our Staff Team, the results of this work have clearly increased the impact and relevance of our Area Organisation and the service to the national movements across Europe.

We are deeply thankful to the national YMCAs, working groups and networks that invited us to their governance meetings, events and training sessions within Europe and globally. We are proud to have planted the seeds for future new national YMCAs in Poland, Belgium and Cyprus this year, adding new tools and programme opportunities to our Movement Strengthening strategy for the benefit of all European YMCAs. 

Every month we reported dozens of initiatives through our newsletters and the publications on our platforms. Looking back, also YMCA Europe had to quickly adapt to new realities and still take this opportunity to thrive on chance. 

You can always follow us on facebook, instagram, twitter or linkedIn, where we include new content every single day: the latest news, campaigns and updates from YMCAs across the continent. 

Thank you on behalf of our Executive Committee and Staff Team.

      Emma Osmundsen                      Juan Simoes Iglesias
             President                                 Secretary General

1,384,671 €

Funds received up to October 31th in response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Check here the YMCA response and projects across Europe.

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